Zimbabwe reports first case of Omicron

Zimbabwe's Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga

Zimbabwe's Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga. He announced the first case of Omicron variant of Covid-19 in the country.

Photo credit: AFP

What you need to know:

  • Western countries and some in Africa reacted to the detection of the new variant by banning travelling from southern Africa countries

Zimbabwe has reported its first case of the Omicron variant a few days after imposing a 10-day mandatory quarantine for all visitors, including returning residents.

Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who doubles as Health and Child Care minister, made the announcement on Thursday. However, he did not provide details about the origins of the case.

“We are now in a particularly dangerous period once again where the fourth wave is slowly visiting us with the identification of the B.1.1.529 or the Omicron variant of Covid-19,” Retired General Chiwenga said.

“We want everyone to be safe, so let’s be vaccinated and then let’s follow the protocols,” he added.

“We don’t want to end up putting extra measures in place.”

President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday announced rules imposing quarantine on all travellers entering Zimbabwe.

Those visiting the country are expected to take PCR tests on arrival at points of entry before proceeding to the 10-day quarantine at designated centres at their own cost.

Thousands of Zimbabweans, who live and work in neighbouring South Africa, are expected to travel home over Christmas.

South Africa and Botswana first detected the Omicron variant last month.

Western countries and some in Africa have reacted to the detection of the new variant by banning travelling from southern Africa and major airlines have also halted flights to the region.

Before the new measures announced by President Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe only required those that showed symptoms of Covid-19 on arrival at ports of entry to undergo PCR tests for $60.

He said the progress made by the country in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic was now at risk due to complacency.

Unrestricted travel during the 2020 festive season was linked to the devastating second wave of the Covid-19 outbreak early this year that claimed the lives of hundreds of people, including Cabinet ministers.

Zimbabwe’s daily Covid-19 infections topped 1000 for the first time on Thursday since August as fears of a fourth wave grow.

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